Color Theory and Landscaping

by J on May 28, 2010

Probably one of the best things about landscaping your yard is being able to create beautiful garden spaces with your favorite flowers throughout your yard. Most of us can’t wait for the warm days of spring to be able to head over to the local garden center to pick out our selections. Do you ever wonder how the professionals design such beautiful gardens?

One way is by using the fundamentals of color theory. While artists spend years studying color theory, knowing and following some of the rudiments of this study will help you to create beautiful garden vistas right now. According to an About.com color theory article written by David Beaulieu, the color spectrum is often divided into four categories. How you mix and match the colors from these following four categories is what gives your garden different moods and ambiance.

  • Primary category: reds, yellows and blues
  • Secondary category: greens, violets and oranges (these are blends of the primary colors)
  • Tertiary category:  Blends of the primary and secondary categories, such as yellow-green, blue-violet, etc.
  • Neutral category:  white, grays and silvers

Artists and designers often use a color wheel when they are working. A color wheel contains the categories of color presented in a circle. If you choose colors that are next to each other on the color wheel, then your creation will have a unified presentation. If you choose colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel, then your creation will show contrasts.

So to translate this to the garden, if you are looking to create a garden with a harmonious blend of color, then you should choose to plant flowers in colors that are next to each other on the color wheel, such as yellow and orange. On the other hand, if you want to contrast your flowers, then plant flowers in colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel, such as blue and orange.

Another landscape design tip to keep in mind regarding color is that colors are also referred to as warm colors and cool colors. The warm colors are red, yellow and orange, and the cool colors are blue, purple and green. Warm colors tend to give off energy and excitement, while the cool colors tend to exude peacefulness. You can use this to your advantage when you are trying to create a certain ambience in the garden.

For example, let’s say perhaps you have a concrete patio that you want to use as the basis for a secluded, relaxing garden nook. You would want to choose flowers and accessories in the cool color range to help facilitate that mood.

So, this spring and summer as you are planting your favorite flowers, try experimenting with color theory to see what creative and exciting arrangements you can come up with. Make it your most colorful summer yet!

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